Meditation is one form of what is called relaxation therapy
. Meditation allows us to use the mind as a tool to bring into balance our body, mind and spirit. When we use the word spirit
, we are referring to the highest aspect of ourselves that is part of something greater. When we refer to the word mind
, we are referring to the levels of the mind known as the conscious mind, the unconscious mind (where the ego and our reactive emotions are stored), and the superconscious mind, also known as the soul or higher self.
Think of the mind as the connecting link between the body and spirit. These levels of the mind are meant to interact with each other in a harmonious manner. Distortion comes when we allow our negative feelings and emotions to interfere with this natural process. There have been numerous studies done by doctors on their patients with HIV showing the effect that stress and negative reactive emotions such as regret, guilt, shame, resentment, being critical of others and intolerance have on our physical bodies; in particular, our immune systems. These studies show how powerful an influence the unconscious mind has over our physical body.
In their book, The Power of the Mind to Heal, Doctors Joan and Miroslav Borysenko state, "Letting go of negative reactive emotions ... is at the very heart of physical, emotional and spiritual healing." The reason for this phenomenon is very simple, they say. "When we judge and criticize, we feel instantly separated from ourselves, from the ones we're blaming and from life itself. This means that we, in essence, separate from our Higher Self/Soul and let our negative thoughts and emotions take over. The more we feed our energy into these kinds of reactive emotions, the more power we give to them." Meditation helps us in the process of letting go of these negative reactive emotions. Meditation puts us in touch with our own Higher Self/Soul by utilizing the levels of the mind appropriately. Meditation allows us the opportunity to separate ourselves from the stress and chaos of everyday life. Meditation is, in a sense, the chiropractor of the mind. It aligns the mind like a chiropractor would align the body, opening the channels that reach deep inside us. This is accomplished by our going inside ourselves and realizing that we are more than our thoughts. We are also that space between our thoughts. It is by connecting to that space between our thoughts that we connect to the deepest and innermost level of our being. The more we connect to our innermost level of being, the more we can control our reactions in situations that bring us stress. At the end of your meditating experience, you should feel calm and peaceful. This experience is the result of allowing the levels of mind to communicate appropriately and harmoniously.
Using meditation as a tool to connect to your inner being can be done through some basic techniques to bring oneself into a receptive meditative state of being. There are many different types of techniques; however, there are some basics we feel should be incorporated into the design of your individual meditation:
- Meditation should be done in a quiet environment with soft lighting and at the most peaceful time of day for you. The most conducive energy for meditation is early morning and early evening.
- Use the same location for your meditations every day. This allows your mind to become accustomed to the environment for meditation and grounds the energy of that specified area, which will aid in the meditation process.
- Spend at least 5 to 10 minutes, twice a day, in meditation.
- You may light a candle. Ancient belief systems teach that fire is the purest form of energy and is symbolic of Spirit.
- Sit straight, but comfortably, in a chair with both feet on the floor. Do not cross your arms or legs. Hands should be placed one on each leg with palms facing down.
- Meditations may either be silent, with music or guided. If using a guided meditation, one is to use either visualization or imagination. Visualization is like standing outside your body, following the directions of the meditation, or like watching yourself in a movie. Imagination is being inside your body, following the directions of the meditation. Imagination is more powerful, but use whichever is most comfortable for you.
- A very powerful technique for meditating is to aim your consciousness into your Heart/Heart Center area and remain there during the meditation, whether it be silent, with music or guided. The Heart Center is an area symbolic of the Higher Self/Soul. The Heart Center is located in the middle of your chest. This is the location of the thymus gland, which produces T-cells. In order to meditate within your Heart Center, close your eyes and picture/create a room in your Heart or your Heart Center area. Imagine yourself standing in the room you have created. Now, imagine yourself surrounded by light.
- Breathing is a very important element in meditating. Breathe in slowly through your nose and pause, then breathe out slowly through your mouth and pause. Become aware of the rhythmic fashion and the pattern of your breathing. Practice this often, as it is a relaxation technique itself. For example, when you are feeling anxiety, anger or any negative reactive emotion, take a moment and do ten repetitions of this rhythmic deep breathing and this will help to bring you back into a calm and peaceful state of being.
- It is okay for you to experience thoughts during your meditations. Learn not to engage in any dialogue with your thoughts. Think of your thoughts as being on a train going by and observe them without trying to stop the train, pulling them off the train and having a conversation with them. Another way to avoid engaging in a conversation with your thoughts is to concentrate on or become aware of your breathing. As you engage in the awareness and rhythm of your breathing, the thoughts will pass without interrupting your meditation. As you meditate more frequently, disruptive thoughts will become less.